Watching Good Morning America on ABC is part of my weekday morning routine. While I mainly watch it because it includes our local news and weather, I do enjoy the show. This morning there was an interesting segment about a disorder I had never heard of: orthorexia. (You can read about it here.) Although experts aren't sure if this should be classified as an eating disorder or an obsessive-compulsive disorder, they do agree it's a very dangerous illness. Seems there are individuals who become so concerned about putting only healthy food into their bodies that they're starving themselves to death, much like anorexics. However, after showing a segment with a woman who suffered from this disorder, Good Morning America interviewed their medical expert, Dr. Marie Savard. Dr. Savard discussed the causes and effects of this disorder, but then said something that made me very angry. She said eating a diet of fruits and vegetables is too limiting, that we needed to eat meat and dairy in order to get all the amino acids necessary for our health. Well, to a vegetarian, them's fighting words.
I often have to explain to people that eating a vegetarian diet provides me with plenty of protein and nutrients. After all, if it didn't, I'd be dead. In fact, I thought that modern medical thinking had finally come to the conclusion that you don't even have to combine certain foods in order to get a complete protein. Again, I'd be dead if I needed to combine certain foods in certain ways. There have been studies that support a vegan diet as the healthiest choice. The Cancer Project has utilized these studies to educate individuals about cancer prevention. This organization stresses the link between consumption of animal products and cancer.
While orthorexia appears to be an very dangerous disorder, it has nothing to do with eliminating animal products from your diet. If the woman featured on the program had said she was only eating organic food, I'm sure Dr. Savard would not have commented that we need to make sure we include plenty of chemically-laced, processed food in our diet. This disorder is about obsessiveness and fear, not about eliminating meat. I'm hoping enough people write in about Dr. Savard's irresponsible comments and that Good Morning America does a segment on vegan and vegetarian diets as part of a healthy lifestyle.